Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Former President Donald Trump stands onstage Nov. 15, 2022, after announcing a third run for president at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP) Former President Donald Trump stands onstage Nov. 15, 2022, after announcing a third run for president at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP)

Former President Donald Trump stands onstage Nov. 15, 2022, after announcing a third run for president at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson April 12, 2024
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman April 12, 2024

If Your Time is short

  • A Republican bill in the House, the American Confidence in Elections Act, aims to ensure that noncitizens don’t vote in federal elections, even though that is already banned.

  • Other GOP-led efforts to keep noncitizens from voting in federal elections are under way in the courts and in state legislatures.

  • It takes many years for lawful permanent residents, also known as green card holders, to become citizens and gain voting rights.

  • Our mission: Help you be an informed participant in democracy. Learn more.

Former President Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson will host an event at Mar-a-Lago on April 12 in an appearance that is expected to underscore something that PolitiFact has fact-checked repeatedly as false: allegations of rampant election fraud — most recently claims of noncitizen voting.

Their joint appearance comes as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has called for Johnson’s ouster for working too closely with Democrats, and as Trump continues to make securing the border a key argument for his return to the White House. 

As he campaigns in 2024, Trump has repeatedly made false and ridiculous statements about the 2020 election. Trump’s election result denial has poisoned many Americans’ views on voting, misleading the public about how elections are run.

So far this year, Trump, entrepreneur Elon Musk and social media influencers have spread statements that create a false impression that noncitizens’ voting or their voter registration is rampant. It isn’t.

The rhetoric is fed, partly, by the reality that a minority of cities allow noncitizens to vote in local elections, such as for mayor or city council. This includes some cities in California, Maryland and Vermont, Ron Hayduk, a political science professor at San Francisco State University, previously told PolitiFact. 

But by law, only American citizens are allowed to vote in elections for Congress and president.

Noncitizen voting has been a frequent theme of misinformation in 2024

Trump has made false claims about noncitizens voting stretching back to 2014, and his 2016 presidential race. He made similar statements after his 2020 loss.

Trump said in January that Democrats are allowing immigrants illegally in the country "to come in — people that don’t speak our language — they are signing them up to vote." 

Trump didn’t directly identify who "they" are, but in his preceding comments, he talked about people who "cheat on an election" — language he often uses to talk about Democrats.

Our search for evidence turned up sporadic cases of noncitizens registering to vote or casting ballots. But we found no effort by Democrats to register people in the country illegally. Most noncitizens don’t want to risk jail time (or deportation if they are here illegally) by casting a ballot. Election officials take several steps to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots. 

We rated Trump’s statement Pants on Fire

Musk has posted about noncitizens and voting dozens of times. His posts claim that Biden is bringing in new migrants to boost votes for Democrats.

Musk said in a February post on X that Biden’s strategy is to "get as many illegals in the country as possible" and "legalize them to create a permanent majority." 

The path to U.S. citizenship, which is required for voting in federal elections, can take a decade, so the current influx of immigrants would not lead to a significant number of new voters for many years, if ever. Even when immigrants become voting citizens, it doesn’t mean the United States will become a one-party nation. We rated Musk’s statement False

If a noncitizen is allowed to vote in a city race, that does not give that person the right to vote for president.

For example, Takoma Park, Maryland, has allowed noncitizen voting for mayor and city council since 1993. About 200 noncitizens are registered to vote in elections compared with 11,200 registered citizen voters in Takoma Park. 

Voting for local elections is held on a separate ballot and location from state and federal elections. Jessie Carpenter, Takoma Park clerk, said if a noncitizen showed up at a polling precinct site to vote in a state or federal election, that person would not be on the roll of eligible voters.

"There is no basis for thinking these folks would be voting in state elections," Carpenter said.

Trump continues to spread falsehoods about 2020

Trump has made other statements that distort the outcome of elections. Before his recent rally in Wisconsin, Trump said he won Wisconsin in 2020. He won the state in 2016, but lost in 2020.

A probe led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman — who has aligned with Trump and promoted his false claims — turned up no evidence the election was incorrectly called. We rated Trump’s statement Pants on Fire.

Many of Trump’s falsehoods pertain to voting by mail and its expansion during the pandemic. Trump said in January that Democrats "used COVID to cheat" in the 2020 election.

Many states made voting easier during the pandemic by mailing a ballot or an application to receive a ballot to registered voters. Some states that previously required voters to have an excuse to vote by mail loosened that rule.

Trump is free to disagree with these changes, but he is wrong to characterize them as cheating. These changes were made openly, through executive orders, administrative actions or law. And when a state expanded access to voting by mail, that was available to Republican voters, too. 

In a March speech in Greensboro, North Carolina, Trump falsely said, "Eighty-two percent of the country understands that it was a rigged election." Polls showed a majority of Americans believed the 2020 results were legitimate, although significant numbers of Republicans did not.

Johnson sought to overturn the 2020 election

Johnson aligned himself with Trump and congressional Republicans who sought to overturn legitimate results ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

​​In December 2020, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block four battleground states from voting in the Electoral College. Those four states voted for Biden.

Johnson sent an email to Republican colleagues asking them to join an amicus — or "friend of the court" — brief in support of Paxton’s lawsuit, CNN reported. 

The majority of the conference, 126 Republicans, signed the brief. Johnson tweeted Dec. 10, 2020, that he was "proud to lead" the effort.

In interviews after the election, Johnson spread falsehoods about voting machines and a "rigged" election. On Jan. 6, Johnson objected to certification of the election.

Congressional efforts to ban noncitizen voting

Republicans in Congress, with a boost from Trump, are pushing for lawmakers to pass a ban on noncitizen voting. 

"Congress has a role with regard to federal elections," Johnson said April 12, before his meeting with Trump. "We want to make absolutely certain that anybody who votes is actually an American citizen. In some states, it's too easy. … So, we need to make sure that federal law is clear on that matter."

The proposed legislation is drawing attention because Republicans have made fear of noncitizen voting a frequent talking point as a high number of migrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

There are a few Republican-backed legislative efforts to curb noncitizen voting.

The broadest bill, the American Confidence in Elections Act, is sponsored by Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis. It currently has 131 co-sponsors, all Republicans. One provision in this bill states it will ensure "only eligible American citizens may participate in federal elections. It draws from previous legislation including the "NO VOTE for Non-Citizens Act of 2023" filed by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.

The bill acknowledges that this requirement is duplicative of existing law and constitutional requirements: Noncitizens are already not allowed to vote in federal elections.

Steil’s bill also has the following elements targeting noncitizen voting:

  • A provision to require states to separate out noncitizens who are eligible to vote in local elections from citizen voters on registration lists.

  • A provision that requires ballots given to noncitizen voters in local elections to include only the offices for which they are eligible to vote, rather than federal offices for which they may not vote.

  • A provision to cut by 30% the federal election administration funding sent to any state that allows noncitizens to vote in local elections. 

  • A provision preventing federal funds for election administration being spent on efforts to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

These measures would fall short of banning local noncitizen voting entirely, because federalism prevents Congress from infringing on local powers over their own jurisdictions. But because of Congress’ unusual ability to influence governance in the District of Columbia, the bill would block the district directly from allowing noncitizens to vote. The district’s provisions have attracted intense opposition from voting rights groups.

This bill has passed the House Administration Committee, which Steil chairs, over Democratic opposition. But it has not received a floor vote yet.

Amid Republican concerns that the full bill will have trouble getting through the chamber, the committee has also approved six pieces of Steil’s bill as stand-alone legislation. Three of these smaller bills touch on noncitizen voting.

One measure would ban the District of Columbia from allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections. Another spinoff bill would let states include on vote-by-mail registration applications a requirement that the applicant provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

And a third bill would require the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to respond to requests from election officials who seek to verify the citizenship of voters in their state.

It’s unclear when, or if, any of these measures will come to a vote in the House. If they do pass the House, the ones that receive widespread Democratic opposition are likely to be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Opponents of such measures argue that there are already election law safeguards in place that address these concerns. Those protections include that current law already bans noncitizen voting in federal elections and penalties can include jail time, deportation or denial of citizenship applications. Also, when people register to vote they swear under oath that they are citizens.

RELATED: Trump’s claim that millions of immigrants are signing up to vote illegally is Pants on Fire!

RELATED‘An environment of distrust’: How Elon Musk amplifies falsehoods about immigration, 2024 voting


Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources, "American Confidence in Elections Act," accessed April 11, 2024

U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith, Press release about bill, July 6, 2023

Walter Olson, The Right’s Bogus Claims about Noncitizen Voting Fraud, April 11, 2024

Sun Sentinel, After a bumpy day of missing ballots, troubled Broward recount put on ice until the morning, Nov. 17, 2018

Brennan, Statement of the Brennan Center in Opposition to the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act, July 13, 2023

Brennan, Noncitizens Are Not Voting in Federal or State Elections — Here’s Why, April 12, 2024

Roll Call, "House GOP takes new tack in advancing conservative election bills," Nov. 30, 2023

Republican National Committee, "Election Integrity & Litigation Efforts," accessed April 11, 2024

Democracy Docket, "House Republicans Unveil Most Restrictive Elections Bill in Decades," July 10, 2023

America First Policy Institute, "Letter of Support: The American Confidence In Elections (ACE) Act," July 10, 2023

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, letter, July 13, 2023

Dallas Morning News, Abbott signs elections bill, Sept. 8, 2021

Kentucky Lantern, GOP, Trump build on immigration fears to push voting restrictions in states, April 12, 2024

CBS, Mike Johnson to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago amid threat to speakership, April 12, 2024

Gov. Rick Scott, Suspension order for Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, Nov. 30, 2018

PolitiFact, Former President Donald Trump, Accessed April 12, 2024

PolitiFact, Mike Johnson sought to overturn 2020 election. As House speaker, he'll oversee 2024 certification, Oct. 26, 2023

PolitiFact, Marco Rubio says Broward elections office has history of breaking the law, Nov. 12, 2018

Email interview, W P Jackson Krug, spokesperson for U.S. Rep. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., April 11, 2024

Telephone interview, Larry Davis, lawyer who represented Nikki Fried in 2018 Florida recount, April 11, 2024

Telephone interview, Joe Scott, Broward Supervisor of Elections, April 11, 2024

Email interview, Tammy Patrick, Chief Executive Officer of Programs, Election Center (National Association of Election Administrators), April 12, 2024

Telephone interview, Wendy Weiser, director the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, April 12, 2024

Email interview, Trey Grayson, Frost Brown Todd LLP and former Kentucky secretary of state, April 12, 2024

Email interview, Mark Ard, Florida Division of Elections spokesperson, April 12, 2024

Email interview, Will Soltero, Voting Rights Lab, spokesperson, April 12, 2024

Email interview, Will Adler, associate director, and Theo Menon, policy analyst, with the elections project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, April 12, 2024

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Louis Jacobson

Republicans push for noncitizen voting ban in Congress. But a federal ban already exists.